Implementing the Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights from the North Caucasus: A Closing Window for Accountability or a Continuing Process of Transitional Justice?
This chapter addresses the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR or the Court) on Chechnya and Russia’s implementation of the “Chechen judgments” from the standpoint of transitional justice, mainly the pursuit of accountability. Chechnya does not conform to the traditional trajectory of post-conflict transition but nonetheless can be roughly contextualised within the transitional justice literature. The concrete obstacles to implementing the Chechen judgments are examined in depth, drawing on the practical work carried out in this area by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) over the past 4 years, including the difficulties faced by applicants before the Court in interacting with the Committee of Ministers (CoM), the Council of Europe (CoE) organ responsible for overseeing member states’ implementation of the Court’s judgments. A comparative perspective of transitional processes in other CoE member states indicates, however, that applicants from other post-conflict and transitional contexts have faced similar difficulties pursuing implementation of ECtHR judgments in the area of effective investigations. Nonetheless, Russia’s implementation of the Chechen cases holds implications for the legitimacy of the European Convention system and for the perception of the merits of strategic litigation on the state accountability model, which generally lacks strong enforcement mechanisms.
KeywordsEuropean Court of Human Rights Chechnya Council of Europe Post-conflict transition Chechen cases Accountability
I want to acknowledge my colleague Grigor Avetisyan for his contribution of significant material for this chapter, and his groundbreaking work providing legal representation to Chechen applicants before the ECtHR at the domestic level. I also thank Dr. Natalia Szablewska for her helpful comments on earlier drafts and for her moral and logistical support during the writing process.